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Your health care provider has recommended you have a D&C (dilation and curettage). This common procedure helps your health care provider learn more about problems inside your uterus or is done to treat a miscarriage. During a D&C, the cervix (opening of the uterus) is widened, or dilated. Tissue samples are then removed from the endometrium (lining of the uterus) with an instrument called a curette or with suction. In many cases, D&C is done to find the cause of abnormal vaginal bleeding. Or, you may need a D&C as a form of treatment.Image of surgery in progress. woman on surgical table with health care professionals surrounding her 

A hysteroscopy, in which a small instrument is used to see the inside of the uterus, is usually done along with the D&C for a gynecological problem. Hysteroscopy and D&C can be done in the operating room or in the health care provider's office, depending on the health care provider who does it.

Preparing for D&C

  • Arrange for an adult family member or friend to drive you home.

  • Don’t eat or drink anything after the midnight before your D&C (unless told otherwise by your health care provider).

During your D&C

Just before your D&C, you may receive medicine to prevent pain. This may be given through an IV. You may be awake but relaxed during the procedure. Or, you may be completely asleep. The type of anesthesia used is different depending on where the procedure takes place. The procedure will not begin until the pain medicine has taken effect. During your D&C:

Cutaway view of uterus

  • Instruments are used to hold the vagina open and to steady the uterus. The cervical canal is widened using tapered instruments called dilators.

  • Usually a hysteroscope (thin, rigid, or flexible telescope) is inserted into the vagina to take images of the inside of the uterus. This allows your health care provider to see into the uterus.

  • The curette or suction is inserted into the uterus. Tissue samples are taken from several areas. These samples are sent to a lab to be studied.

After your D&C

  • You will rest for a while in a recovery area.

  • You can expect some cramping for a few hours after the D&C. This can be controlled with an over-the-counter pain reliever.

  • You may have some light bleeding for a few weeks. Use pads instead of tampons.

  • Take showers instead of baths for about a week. Ask your health care provider if you should avoid exercising or having sex for a period of time.

Risks and complications

D&C rarely causes complications. However, as with any procedure, D&C has some risks. Before your D&C, your health care provider will discuss these with you. You will be asked to sign a consent form. Risks may include:

  • Infection

  • Heavy bleeding

  • Perforation of the uterine wall or damage to nearby organs

  • Scar tissue may form causing the lining of the uterus to adhere to itself. This can cause problems with menstrual flow or difficulty getting pregnant in the future. This is called Asherman syndrome.

  • The need for additional tests or procedures

  • Risks associated with anesthesia (the medicine that makes you sleep during surgery)

Call your health care provider 

Contact your health care provider if you have:

  • Heavy bleeding (more than 1 pad an hour)

  • A fever over 101°F (38.33°C)

  • Increasing abdominal pain, tenderness, or cramping

  • Foul-smelling discharge


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